It’s always a big moment for a program when a head coach gets their 100th win and it was no different for Garry Brodhead on Saturday night as the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns won their third straight game against Coastal Carolina. However, it’s been a long time coming for him to get to this point.
Third Time Was the Charm
The road for Brodhead to reach this point in his career was a long and arduous one. “I’ve been wanting this job for 20-30 years.” Brodhead said on Saturday after the win, “I’ve applied for it three different times and I got it the last time.”
Brodhead’s journey started off in the AAU ranks, especially with Biddy Basketball and still helps teach the future of women’s basketball in the Acadiana area how to play the game like the Cajuns do today.
“I did a Biddy clinic the other day and pretty much ran my practice with some five and six-year old girls.” Brodhead said, “It’s simple and it’s effective. Believe it or not, you see the UConns and the Mississippi States doing the same thing. It’s simple basketball, it’s just trying to play with effort, play with heart, and play with passion.”
He also was part of the program in 1994 where he was a graduate assistant with the program before really cutting his teeth as a coach in the high school ranks as the head coach of the Teurlings Rebels. In that time, he won a state title in 2002 and nine district titles in his ten years at the helm of the program. In all that time, he hasn’t changed his coaching philosophy even with the changes to the game.
“They made me change on how we close out and how we can’t hand check. That’s evolved into us having to do some different things.” Brodhead said, “It’s harder to defend than ever right now because of the rules that they’ve put in. It’s not to our advantage; they want offense, they want scoring. They like the Nekia Jones crossover and hit threes. I’m not into all that.”
A Strong Belief
When Brodhead took over the program in 2012, the program was coming off of a 7-23 season paired with no winning season since 2006. His passion helped this program win two straight WBI championships in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. However, he often wonders how things could have been different if he was at the helm about 30 years ago when he first applied for the opening.
“I see softball and baseball have 700 wins and all that.” Brodhead mentioned, “I wish I would have the opportunity 30 years ago to see where we would be right now. I wouldn’t do anything different because I just believe in Louisiana women’s basketball. There’s a lot of talent and I think we can do it here especially with all the kids that are available.”
That belief in the program is starting to pay off as they won their third straight on Saturday after a rough start to the season, including being without Troi Swain for some of the non-conference slate that was highlighted by several SEC matchups against the likes of Mississippi State, Texas A&M, LSU, and Auburn. Swain, a senior is starting to shine, averaging 11.5 points per game in conference play.
Missing a Piece of the Journey
Anytime that you hear Garry Brodhead mention Andrea Brodhead, he becomes emotional and it’s obvious why considering how she was an integral part in his path towards becoming a head coach. After her passing in 2015, he continued to pour his passion into the program because that’s what she would have wanted.
During his press conference after the win, he mentioned just that along with saying that he’s disappointed that she wasn’t there to share that moment with everything they did over their time together to get to this point. From Biddy Basketball to her final moments, she was an integral part in his journey towards making this program much better than what it was when he took over.
Coaching Is More Than 100 Wins
Brodhead has a lot of passion for the university and it’s understandable since he graduated from the then-named USL in 1980 and was also a student-athlete in track and field. However, he also has a passion that goes beyond what happens on the court.
“I have a lot of passion for the university and I think that’s what people don’t understand with coaches; it’s more than about winning 100 games.” Brodhead said, “We have way more wins with the kids graduating, seeing them have kids, they become family. That’s what’s so great about being a Cajun.”
One of the big goals for several coaches in the collegiate rankings is to help the young men and women they coach become better people and prepare them for life after athletics. It’s pretty safe to say that he has checked off those boxes during his time as a head coach.
Anytime a head coach hits a career milestone like Brodhead did on Saturday, they want to get 100 more. However, he wants it to happen in less time than the first 100.
“I have to apologize to some of the support staff because I want it faster.” Brodhead said, “We want to show that we can be something here as a women’s basketball program, not just an afterthought like it’s been in the past. We want the next 100 to come faster.”
The program has never been better under Brodhead, but he believes that they can be even better and with the talent that’s in and around the Acadiana area, it’s safe to say that the Cajuns will get to win #200 under Brodhead in quick fashion.